A few weeks back Vizio rolled out its 2021 lineup of products ranging from TVs to its soundbars. One of those soundbar systems is the M51ax-J6. This surround sound system supports Dolby Atmos & DTS:X amongst other things and I thought would be ideal to pair up with the Vizio M-Series TV I been using over the past six months. Is it a perfect match?
The M51AX-J6 as mentioned earlier is a surround system that comes with a soundbar, subwoofer, and two satellite speakers. The soundbar itself is 36” across while each satellite speaker is 6”. The subwoofer on the other hand is almost a perfect square with it being 9” tall and 8” wide. All three pieces come in a “dark charcoal” colorway that Vizio I feel has been known for a while. The soundbar has clickable buttons on top ranging from Power, Source, Bluetooth, and Volume Controls. They are very responsive to the touch which is a plus. Hidden behind the speaker’s mesh on the left is LED indicator lights that coincide with your remote-control commands. The design of the M51AX-J6 breeds sleek sophistication that can easily blend into your home.
Included with the M51AX-J6 is wires such as Optical, HDMI, and of course cords to power up and connect all the speakers together.
There is also a remote control with a LCD display, but I will come back to that later.
Setup / Features
Getting the M51AX-J6 up and running was a breeze and did not take that long. It was all about connecting the soundbar to the TV and then the two satellite speakers to the subwoofer. The satellite speakers are not wireless, but the subwoofer is and connects to the soundbar. I love how Vizio wants to make this setup easy as possible with the various labels over the ports and the color coding of the satellite speakers to indicate which was Left and Right.
So, there are various ways you can go about positioning this system. Of course, the soundbar is always going to be under your TV and in front of you but where you decide to put the subwoofer and satellite speakers is another story. I set these up in two ways first having the satellite speakers on each side of my couch and another way is on the left and right of the soundbar. The wires on the satellite speakers are surprisingly long and extend far out. The subwoofer I kept to the side facing forward most of the time.
This is where the remote comes into play. It has options to put the system in the usual “Surround” mode or a “Front” mode which would take advantage of having them in front of you. There is also a Dual mode too which does or feels like a bit of both. The remote also features controls for EQ which lets you put the system in different modes like Game, Movie, Music, Direct. The Level button is more of what you think an “EQ” would be allowing you to change bass, treble, dialogue, and balancing the audio of the speakers. All this can even be seen in the dark on the remote. Also when changing to these different EQ modes you will get voice prompts confirming as well.
The big emphasis on this 5.1 home theater sound bar system is that it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X across its nine speakers. When utilizing content that incorporates Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, this sound system really shines. I have used it across various platforms to watch movies such as BumbleBee (VUDU), Captain America: Winter Soldier (Disney+), Aquaman (4K UHD disc via PS5), and The Dark Knight Rises (Apple TV) all which are 4K content. With the satellite speakers positioned behind me I could hear and feel Mera’s feet running across rooftops in “Aquaman” while in “The Dark Knight Rises” I can feel every punch between Batman and Bane in their first encounter. This was using “EQ Movie.”
The audio of the first episodes of Loki which has been a big part of the show sounds splendid when using “Front Mode”. I checked out CA: WS with the satellite speakers in both settings and while they both sound good I think I just love the rear feeling better. But that requires having this setup perfectly without having wires running across the floor (which I did while reviewing).
Games like Forza Horizon 4(Xbox Series X) felt like I was in the driver’s seat as I drove around the town and got sucked into its ever-changing soundtrack (or rather radio stations). Tetris Effect on PS5 had a similar feeling as you plunge down blocks with its illustrious tunes.
M51AX-J6 was used with a PS5, NVIDIA Shield, Xbox Series X, and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2(Bluetooth).
Watching regular TV via YouTube TV or via videos on YouTube sounded clear but louder than anything. Since these apps don’t have much in the way of codecs, they do not sound special in anyway.
Turning on the Bluetooth option it flips instantly, and I was able to play from my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 with ease. Of course, you want to silence your device as every ping and message will broadcast too as well. Since the soundbar system doesn’t connect to the internet you can’t cast straight from music apps such as Spotify and others.
I had various friends come by to check out the sound system and most thought it cost upwards of $500 but were surprised of its $329.99 price point. The fact this system offers Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and you can setup the satellite speakers in different ways is quite something. I have to say I enjoyed it more than a soundbar I used almost twice its amount. All the usual content I consume sounded great and the system gave me almost zero issues most time using it.